Saturday, September 1, 2012

Generators and other things

As Hurricane Isaac approached Central Florida, we were inundated, not with wind, rain or tornadoes, but with weather forecasts of our impending doom. Life here was about to be changed forever as this approaching storm certainly would reap death and destruction. Schools were closed, businesses shut down and even the Republican National Convention delayed its opening.

Now, even though I have friends that are weathermen on local news channels, I am personally suspicious of them as a people-group. They seem to get paid whether they are right or wrong. There are very few professions where this is the case. Personally, if my consulting advice turns out to be wrong, someone (namely me) might not get paid. Or at the very least there would be a heated conversation about it.

It seems as though there are three forms of weather forecasts;

  • Acc-u-weather; this is what every station claims to possess. Theirs is the fastest, most accurate weather forecast, using 21st century hyper-accurate radar and computers that can tell exactly where every raindrop is falling. While the claims about what has happened are accurate, there is precious little accuracy about what will happen in the near future.

  • Guess-u-weather; this is what we get about 95% of the time. It’s a guessing game with varying percentages – not to be played by the faint of heart. It’s sort of like that famous line in The Hunger Games where Effie Trinket says, “…and may the odds be ever in your favor.”

  • Panic-weather; this is weather reporting on steroids. It’s a constant barrage of worst case scenarios, as the ever present eye of the storm almost hypnotizes as it spins in front of the countless masses glued to their TV set. We are encouraged, almost commanded, to rush out and buy milk, bread, water and other staples as we hunker down and await our inevitable doom.

So, in light of the media blitz, I felt enough guilt to take some hurricane preparedness for our house. We bought a case of bottled water, checked the battery supply. I walked around the house; put a few items away that might become airborne in high winds, made sure the gutters were clear of leaves and debris.

But the thing that most concerned me was the possible loss of power. Do you know what happens to life without power? During Hurricane Charlie we lost power for 6 days; we lost everything in our refrigerator, no lights, no hot water, no clean cloths, no air conditioning or fans. So, right after Hurricane Charlie I went out and bought a generator. That was August 2004.

With Hurricane Isaac taking aim at us, I thought it was time to get the generator ready again. I had not started the generator since Hurricane Charlie, 8 years ago, so I had no illusions about it starting right up…and I was right. After an afternoon of futile attempts (four trips to six different stores for a battery, spark plugs wrench, spark plugs, oil change, and other assorted parts) I raised my man flag.  Putting the generator on a trailer, I took it to the professionals for a tune-up. Now, $200 later I have a great generator ready for the next storm, money well spent.

There is an interesting thing about the generator not starting – all I had to do was nothing and it went from running well to not starting. It ran perfectly back in 2004, providing power till electric service returned, but it’s been sitting in the shed and garage since then.  But more than gathering dust on the outside, the insides became clogged; fuel wouldn’t flow to the engine. On top of all that, moisture collected in the gas tank mixing water with the gas, making it impossible to ignite.

I have found my spiritual life to sometimes be like that generator. Every so often something happens to “generate” my attention and thinking about spiritual things. This normally creates conviction, confession and commitment to change. At first it’s easy, I see with new eyes; everything is clean, shiny, life starting on the first turn of the key. But it became easy to not pay attention or invest time to keep going forward. Falling back into old attitudes and habits is easy – all you have to do is nothing.  My good buddy Leesburg Louie has coined a word for this…”ignorapathy”.

That’s the problem with a performance-based relationship with God – it all depends on us. Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down. Sometimes we’re close, sometimes we’re far away. It’s based on who we are and what we do, and the pressure is all on us. There is no love, there is no grace, and there is no forgiveness.

This is where Christianity and faith in Jesus is the total opposite of every other faith, philosophy and religion. Faith in Jesus is where we come to God with empty hands, not being able to fix ourselves and our brokenness. The scales of life are heavily tipped towards our inability to do or choose right, and nothing we can do will offset our failure. We have been worshiping ourselves and our self-sufficiency, not needing God or anyone else.

One day some people came to Jesus who wanted to earn God’s approval. So they asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the works of God?” Jesus answer is so revolutionary and life-shattering, “This is the work of God; believe in me, the one that God has sent.”[1]

Jesus says that it’s not based on what we do but who he is and our relationship with him. The answer was not;

  • Join a church or any organization
  • Make a list of things to do to get God’s attention
  • Dress in a certain way, sit a certain way, empty your mind

No, the answer is not based on our performance. The answer is with Jesus, letting him be the boss and lord of our life

And this relationship with Jesus requires time and attention in order to energize and change us; reading his word, talking with him, being with his people. Without a daily relationship and interaction with him, our life will be just like that generator, drifting into disrepair, unable to restart.

So, no matter where you are along your journey, this is the time to turn to Jesus. He’s the only one that can truly change and charge you…start your engines.

Blessings – Chet

Chet Gladkowski writes and speaks on practical topics that touch culture, life and faith. - email, Facebook & Twitter - blog
GladAssociates - YouTube

[1] John 6:28,29

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